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US News Undergrad Computer Science/Software Engineering Rankings

amsunshineamsunshine 1271 replies12 threads Senior Member
OK, so the US News released a new set of rankings -- including new categories for undergraduate computer science programs as well as software engineering programs -- today. I realize we should all take these with a huge grain of salt. Here in our house, we take note of them but that's about it.

I'm very curious, though, about the software engineering rankings in particular. My D21 has already decided she will be applying to 2-3 schools on this list, so we are familiar with the programs they offer. However, I was kind of surprised that some of them were ranked the way they were and was hoping someone here might be able to give some insight as to the methodology used by USN. (I don't see any discussion of how they reached their conclusions).

As one example, North Carolina State (one of the schools to which D21 already decided to apply) is ranked number 9 for software engineering, which seems very nice. They tie with CalTech?I? As far as we know (unless we missed something) NCSU doesn't have either a software engineering major or a concentration for software engineering within its computer science major. They do have a good number of faculty with published research in the software engineering area, however. Could this be the basis for the USN rank? I'm puzzled. What makes NCSU stand out from a software engineering perspective?

Here's the link for reference: https://premium.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/computer-science/software-engineering
78 replies
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Replies to: US News Undergrad Computer Science/Software Engineering Rankings

  • randomPeoplerandomPeople 29 replies4 threads Junior Member
    For undergraduates, I will just focus on CS overall instead of specific ranking. I doubt the specific ranking is very reliable for undergraduates.
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  • amsunshineamsunshine 1271 replies12 threads Senior Member
    I agree. However, I'm wondering how a school makes a list of the top 10 undergraduate software engineering programs in the country without a software engineering major? I want to make sure there is not something we are missing here.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 84672 replies752 threads Senior Member
    edited September 14
    In case you are wondering where the ranking comes from:
    Top academics and officials at computer science programs rated the overall quality of undergraduate programs with which they were familiar on a 1-5 scale. A school’s undergraduate computer science rank is solely determined by its average of scores received from these surveys. To be included in this standalone peer assessment survey and ranked, a program must either have been accredited by ABET, housed in an institution that grants Ph.D.s in computer science or engineering, or have recently awarded 20 or more bachelor's degrees in computer science.

    Regarding software engineering...
    amsunshine wrote: »
    I agree. However, I'm wondering how a school makes a list of the top 10 undergraduate software engineering programs in the country without a software engineering major? I want to make sure there is not something we are missing here.

    Seems like they are treating software engineering as a subarea of CS, rather than requiring the existence of an actual major in software engineering (which exists, but is not very common). In other words, similar to the other subareas listed like cybersecurity, theory, etc..

    Anyone interested in a particular subarea of CS may want to look carefully at the faculty rosters and upper level CS course offerings to see if the department offers what is of interest.
    edited September 14
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  • amsunshineamsunshine 1271 replies12 threads Senior Member
    ucbalumnus wrote: »
    In case you are wondering where the ranking comes from:
    Top academics and officials at computer science programs rated the overall quality of undergraduate programs with which they were familiar on a 1-5 scale. A school’s undergraduate computer science rank is solely determined by its average of scores received from these surveys. To be included in this standalone peer assessment survey and ranked, a program must either have been accredited by ABET, housed in an institution that grants Ph.D.s in computer science or engineering, or have recently awarded 20 or more bachelor's degrees in computer science.

    Regarding software engineering...
    amsunshine wrote: »
    I agree. However, I'm wondering how a school makes a list of the top 10 undergraduate software engineering programs in the country without a software engineering major? I want to make sure there is not something we are missing here.

    Seems like they are treating software engineering as a subarea of CS, rather than requiring the existence of an actual major in software engineering (which exists, but is not very common). In other words, similar to the other subareas listed like cybersecurity, theory, etc..

    Anyone interested in a particular subarea of CS may want to look carefully at the faculty rosters and upper level CS course offerings to see if the department offers what is of interest.

    Thanks. I did see the CS ranking methodology but nothing for SE. What is perplexing in the case of NCSU, however, is not only is there not a major in SE, but they do not offer a "subarea" of concentration in software engineering within the CS major either. They do offer concentrations in cybersecurity and "entrepreneurship". I wonder if people consider the "entrepreneurship" track a variant of SE? I don't know enough about the coursework to assess whether they would be considered similar concentrations.
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  • lkg4answerslkg4answers 2316 replies249 threads Senior Member
    Does the ranking for individual majors/departments also include student debt, social mobility, and test-blind admissions policies?
    · Reply · Share
  • Canesfan12Canesfan12 1 replies0 threads New Member
    Would you be willing to post the rankings here? Can't view them past #5. In general though I would probably be a lot more trusting of the overall computer science ranking than that of a specific concentration.
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  • amsunshineamsunshine 1271 replies12 threads Senior Member
    Sure, I can post them. They only rank to #11:

    1. Carnegie Mellon

    2. GA Tech
    2. UC Berkeley
    2. UIUC

    5. UT Austin

    6. MIT
    6. UC Irvine

    8. Stanford

    9. Cal Tech
    9. North Carolina State

    11. Cornell
    11. U Southern Cal

    USC doesn't appear to have either a major or a concentration in SE either, but they do offer a Master's in SE.
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  • amsunshineamsunshine 1271 replies12 threads Senior Member
    Does the ranking for individual majors/departments also include student debt, social mobility, and test-blind admissions policies?

    It doesn't seem so, from what I can tell.
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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 5893 replies96 threads Senior Member
    edited September 14
    Re #7: Must be some unhappy MIT community members today :wink:
    edited September 14
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  • amsunshineamsunshine 1271 replies12 threads Senior Member
    1NJParent wrote: »
    If I were to rank the rankings, I'd rank USNews dead last.

    No kidding. I can't make heads or tails of this.

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  • amsunshineamsunshine 1271 replies12 threads Senior Member
    Mwfan1921 wrote: »
    Re #7: Must be some unhappy MIT community members today :wink:

    But Irvine is celebrating!
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 84672 replies752 threads Senior Member
    Does the ranking for individual majors/departments also include student debt, social mobility, and test-blind admissions policies?

    No, see the quoted portion in reply #3.

    The quote comes from https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/computer-science-overall (forgot to post the link before).
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 84672 replies752 threads Senior Member
    edited September 14
    amsunshine wrote: »
    Thanks. I did see the CS ranking methodology but nothing for SE. What is perplexing in the case of NCSU, however, is not only is there not a major in SE, but they do not offer a "subarea" of concentration in software engineering within the CS major either. They do offer concentrations in cybersecurity and "entrepreneurship". I wonder if people consider the "entrepreneurship" track a variant of SE? I don't know enough about the coursework to assess whether they would be considered similar concentrations.

    Many colleges do not have formalized subarea concentrations that a student can declare, although they may offer upper level CS courses in those areas.
    edited September 14
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  • amsunshineamsunshine 1271 replies12 threads Senior Member
    edited September 14
    ucbalumnus wrote: »
    amsunshine wrote: »
    Thanks. I did see the CS ranking methodology but nothing for SE. What is perplexing in the case of NCSU, however, is not only is there not a major in SE, but they do not offer a "subarea" of concentration in software engineering within the CS major either. They do offer concentrations in cybersecurity and "entrepreneurship". I wonder if people consider the "entrepreneurship" track a variant of SE? I don't know enough about the coursework to assess whether they would be considered similar concentrations.

    Many colleges do not have formalized subarea concentrations that a student can declare, although they may offer upper level CS courses in those areas.

    OK, so can you point me to a guide to determine how one differentiates upper division SE track courses from from regular track upper division CS courses? (This is of course, in the case where a school doesn't have a specific SE specialization).
    edited September 14
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 84672 replies752 threads Senior Member
    amsunshine wrote: »
    Sure, I can post them. They only rank to #11:

    1. Carnegie Mellon

    2. GA Tech
    2. UC Berkeley
    2. UIUC

    5. UT Austin

    6. MIT
    6. UC Irvine

    8. Stanford

    9. Cal Tech
    9. North Carolina State

    11. Cornell
    11. U Southern Cal

    USC doesn't appear to have either a major or a concentration in SE either, but they do offer a Master's in SE.

    These look like the software engineering subarea rankings from https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/computer-science/software-engineering . The general rankings from https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/computer-science-overall are:

    1. MIT
    2. CMU, Stanford, UCB
    5. Caltech, Cornell, Georgia Tech, Princeton, UIUC, Washington
    · Reply · Share
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 84672 replies752 threads Senior Member
    amsunshine wrote: »
    OK, so can you point me to a guide to determine how one differentiates upper division SE track courses from from regular track upper division CS courses? (This is of course, in the case where a school doesn't have a specific SE specialization).

    Typically, you can find obviously named courses in the course catalog. For example, you can find COMPSCI 169 at UCB, CSC 326 at NCSU, and 15-313 at CMU.
    · Reply · Share
  • amsunshineamsunshine 1271 replies12 threads Senior Member
    ucbalumnus wrote: »
    amsunshine wrote: »
    Sure, I can post them. They only rank to #11:

    1. Carnegie Mellon

    2. GA Tech
    2. UC Berkeley
    2. UIUC

    5. UT Austin

    6. MIT
    6. UC Irvine

    8. Stanford

    9. Cal Tech
    9. North Carolina State

    11. Cornell
    11. U Southern Cal

    USC doesn't appear to have either a major or a concentration in SE either, but they do offer a Master's in SE.

    These look like the software engineering subarea rankings from https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/computer-science/software-engineering . The general rankings from https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/computer-science-overall are:

    1. MIT
    2. CMU, Stanford, UCB
    5. Caltech, Cornell, Georgia Tech, Princeton, UIUC, Washington

    Exactly. I'm asking about the SE rankings.
    · Reply · Share
  • amsunshineamsunshine 1271 replies12 threads Senior Member
    ucbalumnus wrote: »
    amsunshine wrote: »
    OK, so can you point me to a guide to determine how one differentiates upper division SE track courses from from regular track upper division CS courses? (This is of course, in the case where a school doesn't have a specific SE specialization).

    Typically, you can find obviously named courses in the course catalog. For example, you can find COMPSCI 169 at UCB, CSC 326 at NCSU, and 15-313 at CMU.

    So, you are saying that a software engineering concentration requires only one course called "software engineering"? Thats what CSC 326 is at NCSU. Aren't there other upper division courses that would be required for a "software engineering" concentration? Taking a single course doesn't make sense to me.
    · Reply · Share
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 84672 replies752 threads Senior Member
    edited September 14
    amsunshine wrote: »
    ucbalumnus wrote: »
    amsunshine wrote: »
    OK, so can you point me to a guide to determine how one differentiates upper division SE track courses from from regular track upper division CS courses? (This is of course, in the case where a school doesn't have a specific SE specialization).

    Typically, you can find obviously named courses in the course catalog. For example, you can find COMPSCI 169 at UCB, CSC 326 at NCSU, and 15-313 at CMU.

    So, you are saying that a software engineering concentration requires only one course called "software engineering"? Thats what CSC 326 is at NCSU. Aren't there other upper division courses that would be required for a "software engineering" concentration? Taking a single course doesn't make sense to me.

    For many CS majors in college, one course in software engineering is desirable and sufficient for them to learn the foundational knowledge and practice to be able to adapt to the software engineering methodology used in any organization that they may work in after graduation. There should not be a lot of need to "concentrate" on software engineering methods beyond that in college.
    edited September 14
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